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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

City Leaders Launch Kindergarten Countdown

Wednesday June 9, 2010

School-readiness advice and exciting events free for kids and parents

Surrounded by a group of soon-to-be kindergarteners and the city’s most prominent leaders, Metro United Way’s Success By 6 kicked off Kindergarten Countdown 2010 today at the Children’s Department of the newly renovated Louisville Free Public Library. This annual effort offers families free advice and free fun to get prepared for the first year of school together.

“Metro United Way’s long term goal is that by 2018, all children in our community arrive at kindergarten prepared to succeed, and it is an honor that so many partners have come together for Kindergarten Countdown as they care about this goal, too,” says Joe Tolan, President and CEO of Metro United Way. “This is our fifth year of supporting Kindergarten Countdown and we look forward to continuing the tradition of providing a wonderful summer of activities helping prepare our children and families for kindergarten.”

As a parent and our city’s leader, Mayor Abramson knows that starting Kindergarten is a big deal in more ways than one.

“Kindergarten officially marks the start of your child’s school career,” says Mayor Abramson. “But making sure they are prepared and excited about learning before they head to school next fall is going to help your child get the most out of their education.”

Getting involved in Kindergarten Countdown 2010 is easy. Parents and children can visit any of the 17 branches of the Louisville Free Public Library. The child will receive a free “I’m Going To Kindergarten” tee shirt and the book, “Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come!”, underwritten by the generosity of PNC Bank. The tee

shirt will serve as a free pass for the incoming kindergartener and an accompanying adult to get into the city’s most exciting cultural attractions. At some events, additional adults and other guests may be required to pay admission.

Chuck Denny, Regional President of PNC Bank says PNC’s employees are excited to open new doors for our community’s newest students.

"PNC's support of this early childhood education program is another strategic initiative to help our non-profit partners, preschools and caregivers develop stronger, smarter and healthier families and communities. Through this grant, we expect children will enjoy meaningful experiences that would not otherwise be possible."

Here is the list of Kindergarten Countdown 2010 events:

  • Calypso Cove at the Northeast Family YMCA, 9400 Mill Brook Road, Thursday, June 17 (Last names A-L and Thursday, June 25 (Last names M-Z) from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Free admission for Kindergarten children and their immediate family. Enroll your child in the before and after school Childcare Enrichment Program (CEP) for the upcoming school year and pay no registration fee. All immediate family members get in free!

  • Speed Art Museum, 2035 South Third Street, Saturday, June 119, noon to 3 p.m. Children wearing their Countdown tee shirts and one adult may tour the museum free and visit the ArtSparks children program.

  • Walden Theatre’s production of Alice in Wonderland, 1123 Payne Street, Friday, June 18, Friday, June 25, July????? or Friday, August 6. Performance times vary. Children wearing their t-shirts and one adult will be admitted free; all other seats $5 each. To reserve a seat, contact Dan Welch at 589-0084 or

  • Louisville Zoo, 1100 Trevilian Way, Friday, June 25, 10:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m. Enjoy the amazing animals and Calistoga Splash Park for free! Let zoo docents introduce your child to select animals from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Have fun with the PNC Mobile Learning Adventure, too. Other zoo exhibits, rides and activities are available for additional fees.
  • Kentucky Derby Museum, 704 Central Avenue, Saturday, July 17, 9:30 a.m. to noon. Children wearing their t-shirts and one adult will get in free. Families should arrive by 9:30 a.m. to see horses work out on the track. Tours of the museum are also available.

  • Louisville Science Center, Saturday, July 31 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Children wearing their t-shirts and one adult will get in free. Special programs all day, enjoy KidZone hands-on activities and the special exhibit, Sesame Street: The Body.

The program’s main event is the Kindergarten Countdown Fair on Tuesday, July 27 at Louisville Slugger Field from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. See the Louisville Bats play, meet people from local schools and community organizations and get lots of fun, free stuff for your kindergartener.

Students will also receive information about immunizations, health screenings and skills they should know before starting kindergarten. Students will also be able to meet teachers and tour a school bus. Local law enforcement authorities will prepare identification badges for children.

Craig Buthod, Executive Director of the Louisville Free Public Library views the library’s role in Kindergarten Countdown as essential.

“The Louisville Free Public Library supports Kindergarten Countdown because we believe young children deserve every opportunity to succeed, “ says Craig Buthod. We are looking forward to seeing lots of our community’s newest students in the library this summer as parents help them build a foundation and a love of reading,” adds Buthod.

Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendant of Jefferson County Public Schools believes there is a direct relationship between student achievement and community engagement.

Our teachers and staff are committed to preparing the young people of this community for the future, says Berman, “This partnership shows that community leaders, business leaders, and parents understand the importance of making sure our children are ready for and excited about the journey ahead.”

Jefferson County Public Schools has developed a comprehensive checklist for parents to help their children get ready for kindergarten:

Reading & Oral Language

  1. Speak in five to six word sentences
  2. Retell familiar stories
  3. Discuss “who, what, when, where, & why” questions about familiar stories
  4. Sing songs
  5. Recite nursery rhymes or other familiar poems
  6. Read own name
  7. Recognize familiar environmental print (Ex. Traffic signs; store logos such as K-Mart, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart; food labels, etc.)
  8. Recite the letters of the alphabet ( Sing the “Alphabet Song”)
  9. Recognize and name some letters of the alphabet
  10. Know that books are read from front to back
  11. Know that print moves from left to right and top to bottom on a page


  1. Recognize and name eight basic colors
  2. Recognize and name four basic shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, & circle)
  3. Rote count from 1-10
  4. Can count groups of items up to five


  1. Know how to hold a pencil, crayon, pen, or marker
  2. Pretend to write and reads own writing in a left to right direction
  3. Write own first name
  4. Draw simple, recognizable people and pictures
  5. Know how to use scissors, paste, and glue

Personal Care and Safety

  1. Toilet trained
  2. Can fasten and unfasten own clothing without assistance (Ex. Zippers, shoes, jackets, etc.)
  3. Cover mouth or nose when sneezing or coughing
  4. Know home address and phone number
  5. Know how to contact available, safe adults in case of emergency
  6. Know full name and workplace of parents and/or guardians

Social Skills

  1. Beginning to engage in cooperative play with children in own age group
  2. Beginning to learn concept of sharing
  3. Follow rules and directions given by a caring adult
  4. Use polite language when talking with adult and peers
  5. Keep track of personal belongings

*Jefferson County Public Schools believes that children develop and learn things at different rates and times. These are only suggested skills and may or may not be representative of your child’s unique abilities.

Kindergarten Countdown is a partnership between Metro United Way Success By 6, the city, Jefferson County Public Schools, the Louisville Free Public Library, and PNC Bank.. The agencies work throughout the year to increase school readiness and to educate parents and children about the transition to kindergarten.